29 July 2016 | 17 °C

14 August 2014 | Secret | By: M@

The Secret Corners And Peculiar Nicknames Of Victoria Station

The Secret Corners And Peculiar Nicknames Of Victoria Station

The secret geography of Victoria Station

Workers at Victoria Station have nicknames for just about every section.

The Beach. This is the currently closed-off area in front of the station where London Underground is constructing a new concourse. The name supposedly originates from the area being on the edge of the water of Pimlico Wharf/Grosvenor canal, while the ground material in this area was unusually sandy.

The Chicago stairs. A private staircase to the north-east of the station, thought to be named after the surfeit of Americans who once worked in the adjacent bank.

The Jungle Stairs (old historic name not in use). Near the current McDonald's. These led to a large boiler room that had to be sealed off due to asbestos and other safety concerns. A photo of the ancient equipment is included in the gallery above. It gave off so much heat that the staircase was given its tropical nickname.

Sparrows Corner. The concourse serving Platforms 15-19. Nobody knows the origins of this one.

Picnic Area. This is the area adjacent to Platform 7 in front of Left Luggage.

Royal Waiting Room.  Despite the grandiose name, this is now just a set of retail stock rooms. Originally, this is where the Royal Family would enter the station. You can see the outside entrance to this on Hudson's Place – it is the entrance with the columns to either side (see gallery).

Pugs Hole. This is the area of the station right at the end of Platform 19, including a car park and some outlying track/signal maintenance buildings. Originally, this was a far more extensive area containing turntables, a signal box and sidings. A ‘pug’ was a nickname for an old type of train engine used in the area.

Chatham boiler house. An old basement boiler room underneath the main office building. The eastern part of the station (opened 1862) originally served the London, Chatham & Dover Railway, and the name lingers on in this boiler room.

Follow Victoria Station on Twitter @NetworkRailVIC. Enter the ballot for roof tour here.

A pigeon's eye view of the concourse.
A pigeon's eye view of the concourse.
Vintage loos. Beneath the concourse rest the remains of an old set of lavatories, last used in the 1990s.
Vintage loos. Beneath the concourse rest the remains of an old set of lavatories, last used in the 1990s.
Stairs leading up from the disused loos to the concourse, now bricked off. The steps would have debouched in what is now the main area for ticket machines.
Stairs leading up from the disused loos to the concourse, now bricked off. The steps would have debouched in what is now the main area for ticket machines.
Old front. This canopy dates from 1906. It is a replica of an 1860 original, which still survives at Hove station.
Old front. This canopy dates from 1906. It is a replica of an 1860 original, which still survives at Hove station.
Look out for these glazed-tile route maps, often missed in the main station entrance. These were uncovered relatively recently, having previously been concealed by phone kiosks.
Look out for these glazed-tile route maps, often missed in the main station entrance. These were uncovered relatively recently, having previously been concealed by phone kiosks.
The station rests upon a large network of catacombs, originally used as warehousing for the Grosvenor Canal.
The station rests upon a large network of catacombs, originally used as warehousing for the Grosvenor Canal.
Old parcel weighing machines in the catacombs.
Old parcel weighing machines in the catacombs.
An ancient wooden conveyor belt remains in the so-called Customs Basement. This would have transported goods to the station's parcel office.
An ancient wooden conveyor belt remains in the so-called Customs Basement. This would have transported goods to the station's parcel office.
Victoria's recycling centre. The station reckons to recycle 80% of all its rubbish, and is the only London terminus to have reinstalled litter bins (these were removed them in the 80s and 90s for security reasons).
Victoria's recycling centre. The station reckons to recycle 80% of all its rubbish, and is the only London terminus to have reinstalled litter bins (these were removed them in the 80s and 90s for security reasons).
Watery past. Looking south-west along the tracks, the rail lines follow the route of the old Grosvenor Canal. The station itself was built on the site of a large body of water, known as the Grosvenor Basin. Next time you're waiting on the concourse, consider that in early Victorian times the space would have thronged with barges rather than trains.
Watery past. Looking south-west along the tracks, the rail lines follow the route of the old Grosvenor Canal. The station itself was built on the site of a large body of water, known as the Grosvenor Basin. Next time you're waiting on the concourse, consider that in early Victorian times the space would have thronged with barges rather than trains.
unslugged

Fascinating stuff - another reason why I love this site.

And well done for getting the word "debouched" in. Kudos! :-)

Nicolas Chinardet

So does the location, on a former basin, explain why the tube station is in constent danger of flooding and has pumps working non-stop to stem the flow (I think, that's the case, anyway)?

sexy

very interesting i used to use Victoria station often, to travel to Bromley South by train

Simon

Did you know there is bomb damage at the front where a German dornier(?) aircraft crash landed. I think some of the plane was only recently unearthed. Also, Betjeman in his book about london stations praises the facade at Hudson's place very highly, but I can't really see why.

Barney

So Victoria station doesn't have a beach. It just has a place that people call "The Beach", even though it doesn't necessarily resemble a beach in any way. This article has an annoying dishonest clickbait summary on 'Best of Londonist'. I probably would have read and enjoyed it if it had been more accurately described.